The news that ASLEF have showed their hand by formally backing the No Campaign - whilst disappointing, is no surprise given they were already providing financial support.
I am not sure what mechanisms of consultation were used to engage their membership, but I find the claim that not one member will vote for Independence incredibly silly.
Other Trade Unions are correctly taking a longer term view and engaging with their members through the STUC "A Just Scotland" consultation, which correctly challenges all sides of the debate to demonstrate how the options will benefit the lives of working people.
But lets come back to ASLEF. Simple research uncovers a rather offensive article in their Newsletter last year, where a certain Tom Burns of their Perth Branch wrote in inflammatory terms.
Among the gems of criticism were
(a) no guarantees that the heirs of Queen Elizabeth would be head of state in an Independent Scotland
(b) the stated intentions of multinationals to relocate south of the border - without naming anyone in particular
(c) That Holyrood is a single legislative chamber with no checks and balances - but the devolved parliament isn't a stand alone institution and ignores the ongoing debate about where powers should sit at an even further local level in Scotland
(d) That the SNP Government discriminates against English Students - ignoring legal context
(e) The SNP is anti-English - despite the existence of English born parliamentarians and Government Ministers and activists who are entirely comfortable with campaigning for independence - as it's about the right to self-determination not tribalism
It is of course the prerogative of ASLEF to publish such arrant nonsense, but leaves serious questions as to why such an article would find itself in a Trade Union news sheet, as is the decision to show their hand in the constitutional debate now.
Interestingly the debate within the Trade Unions is beginning to heat up after STUC Congress and UK Conferences due to take place over the Summer.
The Jimmy Reid Foundation also has very useful suggestions, in its new document "The Common Weal", on the type of economic and social renewal that can take place in Scotland - looking at examples in the Nordic and Germanic countries. Dealing with issues such as Tax reform, welfare, a proper investment bank, and various models of company ownership are just some of the issues which should lead the debate over the next year or so within the Trade Union Movement.
The level of the debate within Trade Unions has the capacity to lead the way, and perhaps ASLEF will regret showing their hand and their arguments so early on - as all it would take to completely undermine their stance is for one single ASLEF member to come forward and express their support for independence.